First footage of 'Star Wars: Episode VIII' -- plus new cast members

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is still playing in the theaters, on its way to possibly cracking $1 billion at the domestic box office, but fans have another reason to get excited -- "Star Wars: Episode VIII" is underway.

The official "Star Wars" site made the announcement Monday (Feb. 15), writing, "Rey took her first steps into a larger world in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and will continue her epic journey with Finn, Poe, and Luke Skywalker in the next chapter of the continuing 'Star Wars' saga, 'Star Wars: Episode VIII,' which began principal photography at Pinewood Studios in London on Feb. 15, 2016."

The studio also released a snippet of production, showing Rey (Daisy Ridley) coming face to face with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), where Episode VII left off, and writer/director Rian Johnson welcoming everyone to Episode VIII.

They also revealed a bit of casting news. In addition to confirming Benicio del Toro as a new cast member, the site announced that Laura Dern has signed on, as well as newcomer Kelly Marie Tran. There are, of course, no details offered about the role they each play in the next "Star Wars" saga chapter.

"Star Wars: Episode VIII" is executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Jason McGatlin and Tom Karnowski. Returning cast members include Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie and Andy Serkis.

"Star Wars: Episode VIII" is scheduled to be released Dec. 15, 2017.